Fans Support 'Enterprise' With Ad CampaignBy Caillan
June 30, 2003 - 12:38 PM
A group of Enterprise fans tired of the negativity surrounding the fifth Star Trek series have decided to take matters into their own hands.
The Enterprise Project was founded during the show's second season to show support for the cast and crew of the series. Instead of simply contributing their thoughts on Star Trek message boards and newsgroups, the team resolved to take a "proactive" stance by sending letters to the UPN network and advertising sponsors.
The team behind the campaign includes founder 'MJ', 'Kyrdwyn', webmaster of the project's web site, and 'PJ' and 'Kasia', who moderate the mailing list. They recently decided to take the Enterprise Project to the next level by purchasing a thank-you advertisement to run in the trade paper, The Hollywood Reporter, on the date of the Enterprise third season premiere.
With the large expense involved in placing an advertisement in a trade paper, the team have called for donations from the fan community to support the endeavour. The cost of an advertisment on a Wednesday is $2,880, and so far they have managed to raise $535. Any excess monies raised will be donated to charities supported by several Enterprise cast members.
TrekToday recently interviewed the four administrators of the Enterprise Project to find out more about the campaign, their thoughts on the fan community, and how viewers can help out with the Hollywood Reporter ad. Their full responses to the questions can be found below.
What was your motivation in starting the Enterprise Project?
At the time we started it, there had been a lot of rumors insinuating that Enterprise's renewal for season three was in jeopardy. Season three for almost any series is a very critical season. It is during season three that enough episodes are created to justify syndication.
Rather than sit back and see what UPN decided, we took a proactive stance. This was inspired by the success of the viewers of the Original Series who were able to keep that show on the air for another year - of course we are hoping to keep Enterprise on the air for a full seven years.
We wanted Paramount, UPN, and the sponsors (the real power behind Hollywood) to know that Enterprise fans are out there, and they are watching and care about the show. We urged, and continue to urge, our members, and even non-members, of The Enterprise Project (TEP) to contact the sponsors of the show to ask them questions about their product and to also mention the ad was viewed while watching Enterprise. By doing so, we let the companies know that their dollars spent on ads during Enterprise are paying off.
What do you hope to achieve in placing an ad in the Hollywood Reporter? Were you inspired by the recent Farscape campaigns?
By placing an ad in Hollywood Reporter, we hope to demonstrate the power of the Enterprise fan base, and also that positive attention could be achieved by UPN, Viacom, and Paramount through a little advertising of their own. The idea for the advertisement was inspired by past fan campaigns, including those for Buffy and X-Files. Our concept is different in that we are not trying to "save" a dying show but to keep a healthy show alive. We are also starting our campaign at the beginning of the season instead of at the end, in a continuing effort to encourage renewal for season four and beyond.
Another goal of the ad is to let the cast and crew know that their fans appreciate all the hard work they put into the show. We want to let everyone else in the Hollywood community know that we are loyal Enterprise fans and we want to see more of it. But sending our appreciation to the cast and crew is the primary goal - without them, there is no Enterprise.
We also hope the advertisement will generate greater awareness of the show and the people working very hard on it. The fans do appreciate the show, and are willing to spend the money and time to let others know about it. The show may be bashed in certain public forums, but we feel that the people who do the bashing are in the minority. We are serious about Enterprise and are willing to spend the money to let others know that we like the show. This fan ad is our way of thanking everyone involved in Enterprise for giving us the opportunity to watch this show and be a part of it.
Do you feel there is a constant negative vibe about Enterprise, and is this something you hope to correct with the Enterprise Project and the Hollywood Reporter ad?
Yes, there is a constant undercurrent of criticism, particularly on the Internet. Like any fledgling Trek series, the show has its ups and downs - particularly in the early years. But most of the harsher criticism is lopsided and inaccurate. For example, it is often said that the use of sensuality is disloyal to Roddenberry's vision. But all the series have used it, most of all the Original Series. The ad will underscore the presence of a large and loyal fan base that might otherwise be overlooked because it does not engage in a battle of wills on the discussion boards.
On some of the message boards on the Internet, negative posts are commonplace. A lot of people say they don't like this plot or that character and that the producers should do this or that to 'fix' the show. Even off the Internet, negativity has been experienced. This past year in TV Guide, the publication asked their readership to send in their ideas to help improve Enterprise. The ideas that they printed in the magazine as representations of the responses were immature, and offered no real value, thus making the show look like a joke.
We know we can't stop all the negativity, but we can send out our own positive message and reassure them that there are fans who like the show the way it is.
Why do you think Enterprise's ratings have dropped over the past season?
There are too many complex factors at work to give a precise answer. The series appears to be improving steadily, particularly in the latter half of season two where it has caught its stride. Because we see virtually no promotion by Paramount, we can only deduce that the studio and networks are not doing their job of getting the word out. In talking to offline friends and co-workers who watched all the previous Trek series, it became apparent that many of them are scarcely aware that Enterprise exists. Paramount is producing a quality product but is not bringing the customers to the table.
Do you think there are groups of passionate Enterprise fans out there, but they're not being heard because of all the negativity?
Yes. We know of many people who have quit posting to or even reading various BBSs because they feel personally attacked every time they try to say there's something about the show that they like.
The negative people can be vicious and often take over an Internet bulletin board or newsgroup, pushing the real fans of the show out to seek more positive less combative venues, like various actor fan clubs, which are vital and active communities. These same groups are the ones now cooperating to promote and support the show.
At TEP, posters are asked not to talk about what they perceive is 'wrong' with the show itself or how to 'fix' it. We all agree that we like the show. We want it to be around for a long time, and complaining about it won't accomplish that goal. It is very difficult to 'fix' a show that is not on the air.
Are fans more inclined to use the Internet these days as a form of reacting, whether it be positively or negatively, to Star Trek, and thus forget about the need to write actual letters to the studio to express their views?
Absolutely. Of course it's easier to email someone or post to a message board, etc. Some of the fans have a false sense of security in the notion that the producers watch the more popular discussion boards (heaven forbid that they may be paying attention to some of the negative newsgroups, etc., we talked about above). Plus, there's the relative anonymity of cyberspace - you can post to a message board as 'CptRGarrett1701C' (referring to Captain Rachel Garrett of the 1701-C from "Yesterday's Enterprise") and no one ever has to know your real name. Most businesses won't read letters without your real name and address - so you're revealing yourself when you write that letter.
Posting your feelings and views on a message board, or "thinking good thoughts" isn't sufficient if you want to to let TPTB know how you feel about any show. You have to take the time to actually write a letter (either written or printed). It is important to note the producers' hands are completely tied when it comes to promoting this show or to making the decision whether to cancel or renew. Focus must be directed at the source, Viacom, Paramount, and UPN.
Your web site makes reference to Paramount's promotion of Enterprise. Do you feel that Enterprise isn't being promoted properly?
To be fair, when Brannon Braga did his fan chat a few months back, he indicated to those of us who were there that promotion is UPN's department. We don't think it is being promoted sufficiently - the promotion mostly reaches those who are already looking for it. And of course advertising on UPN itself is not going to reach anyone who's not already a UPN viewer. Being that UPN isn't aired in every area around the country, those ads reach a very limited audience. It would be nice to see TV Guide ads, other mainstream magazine ads, radio spots, billboards (as some other shows advertise), etc. There is a lot of advertising that UPN is not doing, for whatever reason. Higher-rated networks do spend more money - yes, they have it to begin with, but the advertising also works. If UPN per se doesn't have it - certainly Viacom does.
Why should fans donate to the Hollywood Reporter fund?
If they like Enterprise, the characters, the stories, and the continuation of Enterprise and the Star Trek franchise, they should donate to the Enterprise Project and to the advertisement which will be placed in the Hollywood Reporter. Studios and networks are concerned about the bottom line. An ad in this industry newspaper will grab the attention of the various players in the entertainment industry and will tell them that there is a loyal, core viewership and thus a proportionally larger market for this show.
Also, please note that for any money we raise above the cost of the ad will be donated equally among three charities. Doctors Without Borders, supported by John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox), Save the Children, supported by Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed), and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, supported by Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer).
Many astronauts and scientists admit that watching Star Trek growing up inspired them to seek a career in the sciences.
In closing, please note we are not a scam. We just want to let others know that Enterprise is watched and appreciated by the fans, and also to thank everyone involved with the show for the chance to join in the adventures they have every Wednesday night. If you're a fan of Enterprise, if you want to show your appreciation, then you should really consider donating to the fund. It's a great way to be a proactive fan.